S.O.S: Save Our Sanity
When I first got started in Rails, I was almost more amazed by the community than by the framework. Admittedly, at version 0.7 Rails wasn’t nearly the framework it is today, but it was still really incredible—or at least, you could tell it was going be really incredible. But the community was really something else.
After tooling around with the first tutorials Curt Hibbs-style, I stumbled into the online Rails community—the mailing list and IRC channel. This was the golden time, when you could get an exuberant answer to almost any question, be it trivial or deep, high-level or specific. People were eager to help and share their knowledge and excitement about Rails. David himself was there, and other folks who I later learned were Rails bigwigs, all helping people out.
If you’ve stopped by there lately, you’ll know it’s not like that any more.
Why is the Ruby on Rails community nowhere near as good as it used to be? Why is it more and more unusual to find Rails committers in the main community help areas? Why does
#rubyonrails resemble nothing so much as
#php, only with a lot fewer ops? Why has the signal-to-noise ratio on the mailing lists dropped so sharply?
Well, you might say, the Rails community has exploded since you joined it, old timer. This is simple, undeniable fact. But I don’t think that the complaints I have stem from this newbie-splosion. Some of the problems, sure. But not all.
In theory, if people move from newbiedom to intermediatedom, and from intermediatedom to expertdom at even a quarter of the pace of newbie influx, then the balance of knowledge will remain the same. And certainly there are tons of educational resources that didn’t exist back when I came to the community—informational blogs, question and answer sites, online manuals, paper books. The number of people using Rails professionally has blossomed, so you know the expertise is there.
Growing pains are not the root of the problem, so what is?
The One True Answer
I wrote a really long article to answer this question. Long enough to exceed the reasonable limits for a blog posting, and also long enough to warrant its own date-independent place on my site. Continue onward to read my answer. Watch out for the fangs.
Thanks to Marcel Molina for his help with the editing and direction of this piece.
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